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Hurricane Warning Up In South Florida; New Forecast Puts Miami In Bull's Eye; Hurricane Irma Now Hammering Turks And Caicos; At Least 10 Deaths Confirmed From Irma; Storm Surge Nearly Topples Cameraman; Bahamas Bracing For Massive Storm Surges; At Least 10 Killed Major Destruction In Caribbean; Widespread Damage Power Outages In Puerto Rico; Magnitude 8 Earthquake Hits Mexico. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired September 8, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay in Los Angeles.
SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares in Miami, where the entire state of Florida is bracing for the impact of Hurricane Irma. South Florida, in fact, where I'm now standing is just two days away from being devoured by one of the most ferocious storms ever spawned right here in the Atlantic. And time, unfortunately, is rapidly running for people to escape. Now, after devastating parts of the Eastern Caribbean, Hurricane Irma is marching as a powerful category five storm.
Now, it has the sustain winds of 168, I should say, miles an hour or 270 kilometers an hour. No recorded storm has ever maintained that intensity for such a long time. And Irma is so large and powerful that even glancing below -- glancing blow at it can be devastating. Now, to the southeast of Florida, Irma, right now, is hammering the Turks and Caicos Islands. The governor there says escape is impossible. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER BECKINGHAM, GOVERNOR OF TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS: Yes, it is. It's hunkered down. Stay where you are. You can't go out because the winds are just far, far too strong. Nobody can get to, either. So, you know, (INAUDIBLE) are on their own with their families or in the shelters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, by Sunday, Irma will likely be here on Miami's doorstep. Whatever happens from that point, it is certain to be bad, unfortunately. We're riding out the hurricane. It's strongly discouraged. It's already proven, killer. At least 10 deaths have been confirmed so far from ravaged islands of the Caribbean, including four deaths in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Also, feeling sting the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, and Cuba. The (INAUDIBLE), well, at the moment, noticed with potentially deadly consequences. Take a look. Our cameraman there on the north shore of the Dominican Republic was almost swept off his feet, you saw that, by a sudden wave. Hispanic companions yelling at him to get out of the way. Well, our Meteorologist, Karen Maginnis, is tracking the storm for us this hour. Karen, bring us up to speed if you can, what is happening with Irma right now, and where is it going to next, more importantly?
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All right. Right now, the position puts it about 580 miles to the east, southeast of Miami, I did not do the kilometer calculation on this. But we still have another roughly 36 to 48 hours to go. We're thinking landfall is going to occur maybe Saturday night into Sunday morning, depending on what the speed is. Right now, we're watching it go the west, northwest just about 26 kilometers per hour. It is a category five hurricane. It split the difference between the southern tip of Cuba and the Turks and Caicos, and that's where the eye is. It is going to generally trek in that west, northwest motion.
Now, notice that I didn't draw a straight line because these almost never move in a straight line. They have little-crooked movements, but the overall general progress of this is to the west, northwest. All right, so what we're taking a look here are the Bahamas -- Crooked island, Cat island, and Lutheran, Grand Bahama. And here is the northern coast of Cuba, where you see that red, including South Florida, Dade County, West Palm County, Brevard County, all of those counties, even over in (INAUDIBLE), that's where we have hurricane warnings.
They don't issue those just because it's convenient or because they want to frighten you on purpose, but it's for your safety. The gas station's running out of gas. Food is running short. So, you could see some flooding, so you might ride it out, maybe lose your power. What are you going to do for gas? What are you going to do for electricity? These are the questions you need to ask yourself if you're planning to stay. All right, so we go through the forecast wind; this is the RPM. Generally, it looks a lot different from our European model and our North American model, but it just lets you know what that wind field is going to be like.
All right, this is Saturday overnight Europe model. We have new data from the European model, it needs to be in just and it takes some time because it's a finer resolution -- that's why we rely on this much more hardily. So, here we go. It's going to transition; that moves across South Florida, maybe just to the -- a little west of center of Florida through the (INAUDIBLE). So, maybe a little bit more of a towards the Everglades, maybe a little bit more over towards the Tampa area -- not by much. But that's what the European looks like right now.
[01:05:17] We're getting another update -- there you go. More just to the west of center, but the American model, something a little different. Now, it looks like this one is just a little bit to the east of center. But you know what they all have in common, is that this is a category five hurricane, could make landfall as a category four. This is unlike anything we have seen. Now, we've seen a lot of devastating hurricanes. All we have to do is go back to Andrew, and then there was Wilma.
So, here are the spaghetti plots and we know how these go, sometimes they're in agreement, sometimes they're not. In this case, they're not in agreement completely, but it does look like a ride across the east central regions of Florida. The entire Florida Peninsula is the area that's going to be affected. The only way -- if you live in Florida, that you're not going to be affected by Irma is if you've evacuated, if you've moved, and there is certainly mandatory evacuation. What happens after this? Even in the state of Georgia could be affected as a tropical storm going into about the next four days.
So, we have it just for the next -- about two-and-a-half days going through the Florida Peninsula. How much rain are we looking at? We could see between 100 and maybe 500 millimeters, and a storm surge between 5 and 10 feet. Isa, it looks like that would be on the order of about three meters of storm surge, completely devastating. Back to you.
SOARES: Karen, you were talking about the European and the U.S. model. If we look at Hurricane Harvey, I mean, which one would you say was perhaps more precise?
MAGINNIS: During Hurricane Harvey, which was in Texas, it was very good at forecasting it but it's got a lot of different parameters. It's a much finer, more refined model, and that's why we look at that. The North American model, not as many data points put into it, but we still look at it too. And you kind of gets a determinator as to what the trend is or what we can look at, just kind of narrow the focus. But the European is, at least at this point from what we're looking, is the gold model that we have been observing.
SOARES: Yes. It doesn't matter which way you slice it, does it? It is a huge storm category five. Thanks very much, Karen Maginnis. We'll touch base with you a bit later this hour. I want to take you to the Bahamas because emergency officials say massive storm surges are their greatest concern right now. CNN's Anderson Cooper spoke to an official there about what could be coming next. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) which is going to (INAUDIBLE) the storm over the next two hours. They can expect to surge up to 20 feet of water based on the strength of the storm. That water would not settle on Great Inagua, it essentially runs off. But the destructive force, it will turn it back to a surge, that is our greatest concern. It could really cost destructive and catastrophic results.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Journalist Stefano Pozzebon is in Nassau in the Bahamas, he joins me now. And Stefano, what can you see from your window out there? We've had there from one other guest saying it was about the storm surge, it was the most concerning. What can you tell us?
STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isha, we have seen that the wind has definitely picked up there from yesterday. This morning, the wind is much noisier, the sea just behind me on the -- is coming out, and we understand that we see the Irma, Isha, punching, of course, the extremely great concern here in the Bahamas. Yesterday was the big day; all of the progressions, people were boarding up their windows.
They are stocking up all on the food and especially on to get ready for what seems to be -- that could be the devastating impact of these monster hurricane on these (INAUDIBLE) archipelago. And so far, this morning, we understand the wind is coming up, the sea is coming up, it could raise -- rise up to 20 feet, so they are aware (INAUDIBLE), and they could well be flooded being 12 to 24 hours. And the Bahamas want to be as ready as possible, Isha.
SOARES: Yes. And I can imagine Stefano, evacuations have started to take place. Are people heeding those warnings from what you have seen?
POZZEBON: Yes, absolutely. The Bahamas have gone through a massive evacuation operation yesterday and the day before six islands, the six southern-most islands of this archipelago have been complete, almost completely evacuated. And people have been brought here is Nassau in the capital, where some shelters and tents have been provided for the people and for the rest of the inhabitants of Nassau. The advice has been to stay inside, not to put them at risk and stay put and hold force, while Irma passes through this archipelago.
[01:10:37] SOARES: Yes. And you've been there for several hours -- for several days, I should say now for CNN. Paint us a picture of how it has changed the last 24 hours or so, not just the preparations but also those howling wind.
POZZEBON: Yes. The wind is going to get -- when we first arrived, and also it was these classic (INAUDIBLE), that tropical beautiful island with barely a breeze, and now we're seeing that the wind is coming up, the palm trees are definitely blown out. I can see that it does look the hurricane is on its way compared to, for example, 26 - 36 hours ago when we arrived here, and everybody was -- seemed very, very prospects far away in the future. Now, it's happening. Now, it's happening. Now and now, Irma is arriving.
SOARES: Stefano there for us in the Bahamas. Stefano, do stay safe. We'll touch base with you the next hour or so. Well, Hurricane Irma has already brought death and destruction to the Caribbean Islands. Our Leyla Santiago has the latest now from Puerto Rico.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The prime minister of Barbuda has said mandatory evacuation could be put in place by Friday. This, as the island, recovers from one storm and awaits another. Hurricane Irma, leaving a path of death and destruction as it barrels toward the U.S. Homes, now piles of debris. Power, communication, wiped out. Devastating winds reaching up to 185 miles per hour, and rain cutting of Caribbean Islands completely from the rest of the world for hours. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Antigua, however, Barbuda -- our sister island -- is still under threat. We have lost all communication.
SANTIAGO: One of the first government officials to establish contact called it --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harbinging, absolutely devastating, and I've never seen any such destruction on a (INAUDIBLE).
SANTIAGO: Devastating and deadly. The category five hurricane, claiming the life of an infant on the island of 1800 people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had one foot (INAUDIBLE), it could have been worse.
SANTIAGO: The prime minister expressing shock, more lives weren't lost. In St. Martin, even no death, got a chorus and debris from all over the island. The airport is known as a tourist attraction for beach-goers watching planes lands, now being called unreachable by the Dutch Navy.
The clean-up is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. And all of this may not be the end of it for the Caribbean.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is. The roof just went just, the whole roof.
SANTIAGO: These islands may soon get hit by Hurricane Jose, now growing stronger in the Atlantic. And it could be a long road to normalcy for many of these Caribbean Islands, take where we are right now in Puerto Rico; more than million people without power. Tens of thousands right now without water, and already, authorities say it could be weeks, possibly months before it's restored. Leyla Santiago, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
SOARES: We have some breaking news to bring you from Mexico. And ascended to my colleague Isha Sesay who is in Los Angeles, Isha.
SESAY: Isa, thank you for that. And our coverage of Hurricane Irma will continue in just a moment, but let's bring you the breaking news which is coming out of Mexico. We are getting initial reports of a powerful earthquake striking in the sea off the coast of Chiapas, Mexico. These are live pictures we are bringing up for you, so you can take a look at the scene there. The area it struck was near the border of Guatemala. The tremors felt as far away as Mexico, about 600 kilometers away. And the U.S. geological survey says it is a magnitude eight tremor and depth of 33 kilometers, that's about 20 miles. We are working to get more information for you.
But just to remind you, if you are just joining us that a large earthquake has struck Mexico, the southern part, close to the border with Guatemala. It was an epicenter -- the epicenter, as they say, is in that area, in the southwest of the town of Pijijiapan, that's what we're hearing. With the depth of about 33 kilometers, that's 21 miles. We are working to get some assessment of any damage that may have occurred, any casualties. Just working to get a sense of how badly impacted this area has been. Stay with us, we are working to get the details and we'll bring them to you as soon as we get them.
[01:15:22] We're going to take a very quick break here. Irma coverage continues after this short break, where the despite repeated warnings, some Florida residents are still planning to stay put and ride out the monster hurricanes. While the mayor of Miami Beach says that is a big mistake.
KATE RILEY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN WORLD SPORT headlines. We begin with a treat for American tennis fans out the year's final major -- the U.S. Open in New York. All four wins semi- finalist are American and we'll have two first-time grand slam finalists as well as Sloane Stephens. The world number 83 out steps one of (INAUDIBLE) the ninth seed, Venus Williams, 6-1, lost 6, and 7- 5. And a roller coaster semi-final, Stephen's 1-10; her last 11 points was bound to that her first ever final. The fellow American, Madison Keys, is on Saturday after dispatching Coco Vandeweghe quite easily -- 6-1 and 6-2.
And the NFL opened its season with a shocking upset. The defending champion: New England Patriot, lose their home to Kansas City Chiefs, 42-27. Kareem Hunt had two tough sound catches and one round spoiling the parts. That's the celebration of February Super Bowl win, since 2001. And finally, circles (INAUDIBLE) window recently shut amid a frantic flurry of activity, especially in England's Premier League. This most recently (INAUDIBLE) on the last of August, almost three weeks after the start of the season. All that will change next season, though, after the majority of the league's club voted to close it, the Thursday ahead of the opening round of fixtures. And that's a look at your sports headlines. I'm Kate Riley.
SOARES: Welcome back. Thousands of people are making their way north as Hurricane Irma set its sight on Florida. Here in Miami, many people have already left the city, but others are intent on waiting out the dangerous storm. That's a decision strongly discouraged by officials. Irma is already blamed for at least 10 deaths in the Caribbean Island. And the U.S. is prompting one of the largest mass evacuations ever. Our Kyung Lah has the story.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Irma, destructive and deadly. Turning right toward Homestead, Florida. Joel Melendez, raising from window to window, house to house.
JOEL MELENDEZ, RESIDENT OF HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA: If you are financially stable and you're able to get out here, get out of here.
[01:20:07] LAH: Remembering this what Hurricane Andrew did to Homestead 25 years ago, a Cat-5 nearly wiping his home town off the map. This is the picture of Melendez's childhood home complete flattened. His family only survived by hiding in a neighbor's concrete house -- supporting of homes for free.
MELENDEZ: It's traumatizing, you know. It's serious, you know. This isn't a game. You know, I feel for a lot of people, and I can't help that I can't get to because one guy, and my brother and I, you know. Hopefully, I made some type of change or I save the life and through this, that's all that matters, at the end of the day.
LAH: Across Southern Florida, an ever-widening mandatory evacuation order. People, packing up, crowding roads and airports to escape the hurricane. Options in Homestead, 30 miles south of Miami are dwindling right with the gas supply. One by one, gas stations closing and boarding up. Stay at your own risk, say Florida's governor.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: We could not save when the storm starts. So, if you're in an evacuation zone and you need help, you need to tell us now.
KELSON BERTRON, RESIDENT OF HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA: I got the big cans, the little cans, everything.
LAH: Kelson Bertron is not heeding that order. Bertron wasn't alive when Hurricane Andrew ripped through Homestead in 1992.
BERTRON: My plan was to just stay here. Be where it's safer because since stayed here for Andrew, I'm pretty sure it holds this hurricane.
LAH: She has weeks of food for her 15-month-old son, Cayden, and stocks of formula enough to feed her 4-month old, Adan, for months. Could you be wrong?
BERTRON: I could be wrong.
LAH: I mean, what happens -- what happens if you're wrong and it's too late to get out?
BERTRON: I did have to be positive. I have to be. I have everything for them.
LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Homestead, Florida.
SESAY: As we witness the horrible destruction across the Caribbean, Miami is now bracing for Irma's landfall. Philip Levine, the Mayor of Miami Beach, is urging everyone in the evacuation zone to get out now, warning this is a nuclear hurricane. And Mayor Levine joins us now to discuss the real threat Irma poses at this point in time. Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us. I know this mandatory evacuation order has been given, can you give a sense of how well things are going? What your sense is in terms of numbers of people getting out?
PHILIP LEVINE, MAYOR OF MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: I should tell you, on Miami Beach has been very, very orderly transition and evacuation. I started telling people about two or three days ago, that they absolutely should leave -- our visitors and our residents. Now, that was before the mandatory evacuation, and it proved to be the right idea. Because people started leaving, so we've gotten a tremendous amount of the people. Now, there's a mandatory evacuation. We're very, very aggressive because this is a serious, serious, very dangerous storm. And we know that people should not be staying in buildings, should not be staying in the hotels. This is one of these things where it's, you know, safety is number one.
SESAY: You talked about being aggressive and, you know, holding your line if people need to get out. How are you doing that? Are you guys going door-to-door? I mean, what's the plan to make sure that indeed you clear Miami Beach?
LEVINE: Well, what we've been doing is communicate it to every means possible, whether it's e-mails, social media, the news media, all our staff, everywhere we possibly can, we'll be getting the word out. Building managers at these large condominiums have begun to call their residents that they'll be turning off power, air conditioning, as well as water, and of course, that's quite enchanted to leave you condominium building. So, we've seen it -- when I was walking around the streets today, it's quieter, not many people walking around.
Ocean Drive, that's usually lively, and party atmosphere -- it's very, very empty and that's a good thing. I never thought I'd be saying, I don't want people to be on Miami Beach, but this is the one time that I know it's the right thing. Because this hurricane is incredibly aggressive. I called it a nuclear hurricane because if you watch the footage of what's happened in St. Martin in Barbuda, it's horrible what it's done. It's an absolutely devastating.
SESAY: It certainly is. I mean, where do things stand with shelters for those evacuating who need a place to go? I mean, how many have you got that are up and running? How smoothly are things going there?
LEVINE: Right. So, we had many, many shelters all across Miami Dade County. There are no shelters actually on Miami Beach, but throughout Miami proper, we have many of them. We actually have shelters for folks that want to take their pets -- that are designed for those. So, people who are listening that have pets, take your pets, we have certain shelters. We also have, of course, where -- we are making sure that our seniors are taken care of, our special needs people. We have buses on emergency routes to pick them up at pre-assigned areas, and we have trolleys that were taken to bus stops.
SESAY: Mr. Mayor, of course, the focus the right now is to get the human beings -- to the human beings, their pets, get them all out of Miami Beach. But once that is done, hopefully, fully completely everyone goes, what are the other areas of focus right now for you when it comes to preparedness for Irma.
[01:25:02] LEVINE: Well, we've been doing a lot in the last five - six days. Everything from bringing in portable pumps, portable generators, clearing out construction sites. We actually have a whole sandbag program for residents of Miami Beach. We've given out thousands and thousands of sandbags for them to bring back to their houses. So, we've done a lot of preemptive measures. But as you can imagine, when you're dealing with a hurricane, let alone a historically strong hurricane like Irma, the key here is just evacuating you people for safety.
SESAY: Back to the issue of evacuation, where do you think some will fuel? There have been some concerns that people get into stations, they'd ran out. I know that there's talk about getting the tankers reloaded and refilling those gas stations. How is that going?
LEVINE: Well, you'll see in Miami right now, the gas price has gone dramatically. So, the fuel seems to be more abundant. Across the state, I can't really speak to it, but I know the governor has been working on making sure that fuel supplies come to gas stations as soon as possible. And I understand that things are starting to open and become a little less critical.
SESAY: OK. If there are any folks out there who are still dithering about, you know, when to start packing and when to get out. What do you want to say to them, Mr. Mayor?
LEVINE: I would say to them: please, let's be safe; not sorry. We don't want heroes. Our first responders will not be able to help you as this hurricane hits. Please get out. Your own safety is number one priority.
SESAY: Mr. Mayor, as things done right now, where will you be riding out the storm?
LEVINE: I'll be riding out the storm right on Miami Beach in our hardened shelter, which is one of our major hospitals called Mount Sinai. I'll be there with our command staff, and available to survey directly after the hurricane -- right on Miami Beach.
SESAY: And do you feel at this stage, you have everything you need in terms of resources, in terms of man power to respond to Irma if it is devastating and feared as expected?
LEVINE: Well, we hope so. Of course, the proof will be in the pudding. After this hurricane hits, we'll be counting on the county, the state, and of course the federal government. And we've been in close contact with all branches of government. So, we're hopeful that we'll be able to have the full cooperation.
SESAY: All right. Mayor Levine, let us let you go. You have a lot to get on with. We're thinking about you guys, all of you here in Miami, in Florida as a whole during this really stressful time. We wish you the best in the days ahead.
LEVINE: Thank you so much. Bye, Isha.
[01:27:23] SESAY: Thank you. Bye. All right. We're, of course, thinking about everyone in Florida right now. And of course, we'll continue our coverage of Hurricane Irma as the storm makes its way towards Florida. There's also another big story that we are following for you -- that magnitude eight quake that struck off the coast of Mexico. We will bring you all the details after a very quick break, stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [01:31:40] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
SESAY: Hello, everyone.
Our coverage of Hurricane Irma continues in just a moment.
We're also following the breaking news out of Mexico, where we're getting initial reports of a powerful earthquake striking in the sea off the coast of Chiapas, Mexico. The U.S. Geological Survey says it is a magnitude-8 tremor, felt as far away as Mexico City.
Jana Pursley, of the U.S. Geological Survey, joins me on the line now.
Jana, thank you for being with us.
What can you tell us about this magnitude-8 quake?
JANA PURSLEY, OF THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY (via telephone): Good evening. The earthquake struck about 11:49 p.m. In Chiapas, Mexico. At this point the magnitude is still 8.0. It will be likely adjusted as the time goes on and we get more data. The quake is shallow. It has the potential of causing tsunami for the coast of Mexico and central America, possibly south America as well.
SESAY: OK. It was shallow. You make that point. It was a magnitude-8 quake. Looking at just those two data points, what are the expectations, what are the -- what's the possibility here for severe damage? Because our viewers at home hear that magnitude-8 quake, and they think wow, that was a big one.
PURSLEY: That is a big one. The shaking along the coast of Chiapas at this point is estimated to be very strong to severe. We do not have any information as of yet as the potential for casualties and damage. But I would expect damage along the coast of Chiapas.
SESAY: OK. We're looking at possible tsunamis you mentioned. It is quite a broad field. Have you issued watches, warnings? What is the status there?
PURSLEY: We do not. The USGS doesn't issue tsunami warnings. However, I'm reading in the information from the tsunami.gov Web site, and they're expecting the possibility up to three meters of tsunami hitting Mexico.
SESAY: OK. What can you tell us about the terrain? I know this was off the coast. But as we talk about Chiapas, what can you tell us about the landscape and what we're looking at here as we try and get some kind of handle on the kind of damage we may be looking at?
PURSLEY: It is -- it is definite -- it's not in this. So you might get secondary effects such as landslides, rock slides triggered by the earthquake.
SESAY: And what are we seeing in terms of aftershocks? Are we seeing any at this moment? PURSLEY: We're seeing aftershocks. They will be coming in slowly as
the coda, the long period from the main shock, basically obliterating the signal from the higher frequency events.
SESAY: So explain what you mean by that.
PURSLEY: The earthquakes, when they are this big, magnitude-8 and they're shallow, the surface waves they create have a very long period. They're very large. They are the ones that cause the shaking, the damage. The smaller aftershocks, they have a lot more higher frequency. And so, you know, it takes a bit more work to find them in that coda.
[01:35:15] SESAY: Sure. So if I'm understanding you correctly, that's not to say they're not taking place. It's just is that you haven't detected them because of the strength of the initial quake. That correct?
PURSLEY: Yes. As the time goes on, there will be a lot more visible. Right now, we're still seeing the large waves from the first main shock.
SESAY: OK. You mentioned the shaking felt in Chiapas. We understand this quake was strong enough to have been felt all the way in Mexico City and Guatemala City.
PURSLEY: That's right.
SESAY: Do you have any information --
PURSLEY: It's large enough -- it's large enough that it's going to be felt that far away.
SESAY: OK. Large enough that it will be felt that far away. In terms of the data that you will be looking at, in terms of the hours ahead, what is it you'll be keeping an eye out for?
PURSLEY: I believe it will be working aftershocks to determine the rupture area of this earthquake. And we will be definitely keeping an eye on what the tsunami has been along the coast.
SESAY: OK. Jana Pursley, we appreciate you joining us and giving us the information you have at this point in time. We know this is a developing story, and you're working to get more data. So thank you for joining us at this point in time.
I want to go right now to our own Karen Maginnis, our meteorologist, in Atlanta, who is following not just Irma, because we are keeping an eye on Irma, but also what is happening in Mexico off the coast.
Karen, talk to us about what you are seeing. Give us your perspective of what has taken place, this magnitude-8 quake off the coast of Mexico. MAGINNIS: This is really an amazing event. Because around the globe,
you just do not see 8 magnitude earthquakes that often. In fact, around the globe, you might average one a year. Now granted, this is off the coast. This is south of Oaxaca, the day of Oaxaca. This is Mexico City. This is the epicenter of that earthquake. They did feel it in Mexico City. It is a very vulnerable area. We think there may in fact be perhaps a localized tsunami. We're still kind of evaluating that as we speak. Meteorologist and producer over here is looking at that there is a localized tsunami. I'm not sure what the height on that tsunami might be. Perhaps a meter or so is my estimate at this point. But we'll still stay on top of that for you.
This was 8 magnitude. About 35 kilometers deep. So it wasn't shallow. It wasn't deep. Shallow might be about 6 kilometers. Deep might be 100 kilometers. So this is 35 kilometers deep. This is along a trench area where you might expect trench meaning we're watching the water depths go down rather dramatically.
All right. Let's show you what the magnitude of 8 or greater magnitude, what you would see around the world. It is, one, it's referred to as a great earthquake as opposed to a major earthquake. And typically, around the globe, you would only see one of these. And the fact that this has happened tonight just off the coast or south of the Oaxaca state in Mexico is very significant.
Our other big story is Hurricane Irma. Churning its way between the Turks & Caicos and Cuba, on its way to produce devastating wind and rainfall and storm surge across the Bahamas and into south Florida. Dade, Broward, and West Palm Counties are under a hurricane warning. We have so much information to give you on this. But this is a category 5 hurricane. Another update at the top of the hour -- Isha?
[04:39:14] SESAY: Karen, we appreciate it. There is a lot going on, and we thank you for all the information. We will, of course, check back with you shortly. So thank you.
Let's pause here for a quick break. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., the British Virgin Islands, one of the places hit hard by Irma. We're going to talk to a U.S. pastor who hasn't spoken to his family on the island since Monday. He is concerned the British government isn't doing enough to help. We will bring you his story, next.
ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM L.A. And I'm Isa Soares in Miami. Irma has already left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean. This was the scene as the hurricane roared into the British Virgin Islands with sustained winds of 175, or roughly about 280 kilometers per hour. Four of the 10 people Irma killed were in the British territory, and there was severe damage everywhere.
Given the scale of losses on some of the Caribbean islands, some have questioned the British response. But Prime Minister Theresa May defended her government. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We have taken action. We moved swiftly. There are U.K. people. We have people on the ground, 32 million pounds has been released. The fleet auxiliary ship "RFA Manns Bay" is in position providing assistance with more Marines and army engineers. And a task group is on its way on "HMS Ocean" with several hundred U.K. troops. And of course, we'll continue the look at what is need and provide what is necessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, Anegada is the most northerly of the islands and the second largest. About 300 people live there. Just over 100 of whom got out ahead of the arrival. Irma reportedly slammed it quite hard. We're still waiting to find out really the extent of the damage. Communication with the island has been impossible since the hurricane hit.
Well, let's get more. Leonard Miles Jr joins me on the phone now from Long Island, New York. He has a family on Anegada and says he has been unable to reach them for days.
Pastor, thank you very much for joining us on NEWSROOM L.A.
Tell us, when was the last time you spoke to your family?
[01:45:36] LEONARD MILES JR, PASTOR (via telephone): The last time we spoke with the family was some time on Monday. And since then, we have not heard anything from anyone, and no information has been disseminated at all.
SOARES: And who -- what members of your family have you been trying to contact?
MILES: Well, this very brief item here, my mother-in-law is here with us here in long island, New York as she returned with us when we left from a vacation that we had there in July. So my mother-in-law, which is my wife's mother, all her brothers are there, sisters-in-law are there, nephews, niece, cousin, relatives. We would say somewhere in the 100 area. The relatives are located there in Anegada.
SOARES: So just to clarify, Pastor, you're talking about 100 members or so of your family of whom you have not been able to contact. Have you been able to get in contact with any neighbors, even with the British embassy?
MILES: Well, what is interesting about that is this. My -- you can see the concern in my mother-in-law's face continuing to rise on a daily basis, looking at all of the horrible images of the devastation that Irma has put into place on television. But at no time, except for Chad Myers, he did mention Anegada several times a couple of nights ago, no one else, even the word Anegada ever came out of anyone's mouth. After seeing all that, we decided that we were going to reach out to the embassy in New York, the British embassy in New York. The British embassy in New York stated they could not help at all. So then we were transferred to the Home Office in Britain. And when we were transferred to Britain, and I spoke directly to the officer that was there, and I was explaining to him our situation, we've not heard from our relatives. Where are you? What is going on? Do you have any information? He said what is this about? I said it's about the island Anegada. He said where is that located? I said it's in the British Virgin Islands. This is one of your territories. He said I never heard of it before. Would you spell the name for me? So I had to spell Anegada to someone who works in the embassy that didn't even know that BVI had Anegada even in its throngs.
So it was completely upsetting. And after doing that, I called a couple of other news outlets. No one had any information about anything to get to us. And the only reason why, ultimately, I said to myself, Chad Myers mentioned Anegada multiple times in his report. He is the only person that did so. We're missing our family members. We don't know what's going on. We heard all types of things. So that's where we came about. But no help from the British embassy whatsoever.
SOARES: Well, Pastor, we'll keep your family, yourself in our thoughts. And as soon as you hear from your family, do get in contact with us and do let us know.
A pastor there joining us on the phone.
MILES: Thank you.
SOARES: Well, Actor Robert de Niro is anxious to help the British territory of Barbuda get back to normal after Hurricane Irma. He is a co-owner of a resort on the island, and issued this statement, and I'm going read it to you: "We are beyond saddened to learn of the devastation in Barbuda caused from Hurricane Irma and look forward to working with the Paradise Found Resort team, the Barbuda counsel, and the entire community to successfully rebuild what nature has taken away from us."
And of course, if you've been watching our program and want to help Hurricane Irma victims, why don't you go on to our Web site. That's CNN.com/impactyourworld there. You'll find a list of charities we have vetted, charities you can donate to help.
We'll have much more after a very short break.
[01:53:44] SOARES: I'm Isa Soares, in Miami, where it is 1:53 in the morning. And we are tracking Hurricane Irma, the monster storm that is hammering the Turks and Caicos Islands right now. It has sustained winds of 280 kilometers or 174 miles an hour. It smashed a record earlier by maintaining wind intensity above 272 kilometers an hour for 37 straight hours. Really quite the punch that is being felt.
With it barreling towards south Florida, residents in vulnerable areas are being told to get out and get out now. But gas shortages and traffic jams are making that difficult for some, as CNN's Miguel Marquez found out.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The desire and need for petrol in south Florida is reaching the maximum right now. We were at a gas station for many hours tonight. It ran out with 20 cars left in line. We tried to find another one that was open. We drove for 10 miles and saw a dozen more gas stations that were completely out of gas. This one just got a tanker truck in. The gas line is about 20 cars in line right now. Here's what's happening because gas stations south of here are running out of gas, others are forming a second queue on that side, creating problems.
The governor here in Florida taking extraordinary measures, calling for police escorts for tanker trucks so they can get in to the gas stations as quickly and efficiently as possible, also calling for escorts for employees at gas stations so they can work up to the last minute getting everyone as much gas as they can before they can get out.
People in south Florida, with the hurricane models coming literally right over the spot where we are standing, people making the hard decision now, are they going to hunker down here in Florida or get out?
Miguel Marquez, CNN, Miami.
[01:56:04] SOARES: Other breaking news this hour, a magnitude-8 earthquake has been recorded off the southern coast near the Guatemalan waters. The tremors were felt as far away as Mexico City. That's 600 miles, or 1,000 kilometers to the northwest. An official with the U.S. Geological Survey says it has the potential of causing a tsunami. Parts of Mexico City are without power and authorities have already dispatched extra patrols to those areas, according to the Mexico City mayor. First assessment though, using helicopters and security cameras, according to the mayor, does not show immediate damage. We'll keep on top of that breaking news for you.
You have been watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Isa Soares, live for you in Miami.
SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay, in Los Angeles.
We will be right back with more news after this.